Anita Tyndall spent the last two summers manning the gate at the Knightdale community pool.
The UNC-Greensboro English major, who graduated from East Wake Academy in 2012, decided that position, about 15 minutes from home, was a little too easy.
“It was good but it was kind of boring,” she said of her time at the Knightdale pool.
So Tyndall was in the market for a job that was a little more challenging. She found that challenge as a camp counselor for Duke Youth Programs, one of the programs offered by Duke University’s Continuing Studies department.
The position requires that Tyndall spend her summer at Duke in a dorm with responsibilities that keep her busy from just before 7 a.m. to almost 1 a.m.
“(Working at the pool) was really relaxing but this is really fast-paced and intense,” she said.
Tyndall was a camper herself in 2010, participating in Duke Youth Program’s Creative Writer’s Workshop. This summer, Tyndall got a heads up from a UNC-G classmate who was a counselor in the past about an open position at Duke.
She enjoyed being a camper so she decided to apply for the position.
“I really liked the program when I came through as a camper so I thought it would be interesting to come back and see it from a different perspective,” she said.
Tyndall’s responsibilties start the week before her first group of campers arrive at Duke.
She has to decorate and prepare dorms for campers, making personalized name tags, in addition to behind-the-scenes work to keep campers safe and comfortable.
But most counselors, like Tyndall, recall decorating during training week, a process that often cuts into time for sleep.
“When I was a camper, it slipped my mind that counselors decorated the dorm because when I arrived it was already decorated,” she said. “It completely slipped my mind that someone made those and stayed up until 2 in the morning.”
Even after preparing for campers, late nights are commonplace for counselors. They are on hall duty, monitoring the campers’ dorms to make sure everyone gets to bed and stays there. That work usually ends around 11:30 p.m.
From there, counselors finally have some free time but they have to be awake again before 7 a.m. to get campers up and ready for breakfast and a day of classes and acitivites.
Right now, Tyndall has only worked with her first group of campers, preteen girls who attended science camp, but she has already had to deal with a camper with an ear infection and a camper who was homesick and ready to head home.
“I don’t have any horror stories yet because this is my first year… but we have a really good support system … so if things do crop up we can handle it,” she said.
Tyndall will have a few more groups of campers, who cycle in every two weeks. She said so far, the process has really given her the perspective she was interested in getting: what it actually means to be a counselor.
“As a counselor (now), I appreciate how much more work goes into what my counselors did when I was a camper,” she said.